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The Political Career of W. Kerr ScottThe Squire from Haw River$
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Julian M. Pleasants

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780813146775

Published to Kentucky Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9780813146775.001.0001

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Roads and Schools, 1949

Roads and Schools, 1949

(p.71) 4 Roads and Schools, 1949
The Political Career of W. Kerr Scott

Julian M. Pleasants

University Press of Kentucky

The new governor chose his administrative staff and began touring the state demanding better schools and roads, improved health care, and electricity and telephones for rural areas. He quickly demonstrated his contentious side by criticizing big business, school leaders, the health professions, and the state legislature for neglecting the needs of the people. Scott was a needler and provoker and a foe of the foot draggers. He was candid to a fault, and one always knew where he stood on any issue. Governor Scott quickly presented his ambitious fifteen-point “Go Forward” legislative program to the legislature. He proposed a $50 million bond issue for schools and a $200 million bond issue and a one-cent increase in the gas tax to finance his good roads program. After an extended struggle with the conservatives in the legislature, he got public opinion behind his proposal for roads and schools, and the legislature approved the bond issues. In an example of effective executive leadership, he persuaded the legislature to agree with most of his Go Forward program—money to build port facilities, a new state hospital, funds for school construction and a pay raise for teachers, and a reorganization of the state government. As he promised in the campaign, he opened up a dialogue with African Americans in the state and appointed the first black to a state board. Perhaps his most controversial decision came in 1949 when he appointed Frank Porter Graham, the liberal University of North Carolina President, to the US Senate on the death of Senator J. Melville Broughton.

Keywords:   Frank Porter Graham, Road bonds, “Go Forward” program, Needler and provoker

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